League1 Ontario Resets 2021 Season Start Date
League1 Ontario has recalibrated the kickoff date for its 2021 season, with the new date better aligning with the province’s current reopening roadmap.
The semi-professional league had originally targeted a July 2 kickoff date. Given that Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen forbids open trials in the first step – though it does allow for four quadrants of ten players to train on the pitch – the league has pushed the start of the 2021 League1 Ontario season backwards to July 29, 2021.
Notably, the league notes that it is preparing for the scenario of kicking off in August should there be delays regarding Ontario jumping up to the second step of its reopening strategy. For now, however, the board states that it feels good about the new target date.
Although it is disappointing that a July 2 kickoff is no longer possible, we are feeling very confident and optimistic that a July 29 start date is feasible, with the provision that we can enter Step 2 of the Provincial Government’s plan within 21 days of the launch of Step 1 and that the next step of reopening indeed allows for a return to full team training and competition.League1 Ontario Managing Director Matthew Braithwaite
The new start date is the same for both the Men’s and Women’s divisions, both of which will see expansion sides join despite the league cancelling its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Women’s division sees three new expansion teams join the fold, while the men’s team adds five teams in all with Barrie-based side 1812 FC being the latest to join.
The League1 Ontario Board of Directors stated that they felt optimistic about a return to play leading into a season slated to run between the summer and fall. Amid rising vaccination rates, the number of COVID-19 cases has plummeted in the province of late, with today’s report showing numbers drop to 296 new cases overall in Ontario (60 in Toronto).
League1 Ontario will share further details about the competition format for its upcoming season once additional details regarding step two and three of Ontario Soccer’s return to play plan are released. It is unclear if the 2021 Canadian Championship will take place or feature the league.